Dear Dr. Zack,
Where have you been? I've got another problem that's keeping me awake at night and I could use your help.
I try to learn from my mistakes, so I don't repeat them, but I keep remembering the wrong mistakes. If you know how to tell the difference between a right mistake and a wrong one, please let me know.
Restless in French Polynesia,
Tsu Doh Nym (aka Bill Brundage)
Kurtistown, Hawaii (Aloha)
HOW I READ THE AVA
First I look to see if it still 12 pages. Then if Odd Bodkins is still back. Then to see if there is a piece by Dayla. Then the front page. Then anything you may have written. Then Off The Record.
Margaretville, New York
BAIL’S NOT FINE
In Rossi Hardware’s window is this schedule put out by the Judicial Council of California to supposedly have uniform fines. But actually it’s to allow government agencies to jack up all fines. This schedule, they say, is highly technical which means they don’t want any of the public to understand it so they can do as they please. That’s a crime.
According to the dictionary the legal word “bail” means, “the amount necessary to release the freedom of a prisoner,” and the word “fine,” according to the dictionary is “the sum of money paid as punishment.” These are words that almost everyone knows the meaning of.
Recently, a friend of mine got a speeding ticket for going maybe 68 miles an hour when the speed limit was 55. He ended up paying almost $250. According to the chart in Rossi’s window the fine was $35.
My two seatbelt violations were $138 and $322. Incidentally, those were my third and fourth tickets in over 60 years of driving. I might add that tickets 1 and 2 were both traffic traps.
The first seatbelt violation is $25 and the second seatbelt violation is $50. I fought the $322 fine and got back $200. I will hassle the first.
Notice that they use the word “bail” instead of “fine.” Last year in Sonoma County they issued 188% more traffic tickets than the year before. When asked if they were gouging the public, the answer was, Oh no, just public safety.
I would like to know: Were we without public safety for the last 50 years? When one gets the papers from the courthouse that says the amount to pay, it says “bail” instead of “fine,” which completely confuses everyone and they pay the total which includes all the costs as if they went before a judge in a trial.
This is stealing — no other word for it. I would guess that most of the counties in the state have gone with this schedule which means they are stealing millions from the public and getting away with it.
A copy of this letter will go to Attorney General Jerry Brown to see if there is any integrity left in California.
By the way, I am not the perfect driver. I have had minor incidents.
B’NAI BOO FOR SALE
Since Alan Graham is the “storyteller,” I'm not too clear. So I'm looking to “keep it simple!”
I am not related to Meyer Lansky. I went to see him in Missouri but I got escorted out of the hotel. He did, however, take over my father’s Numbers business in the District of Columbia, a whole betting organization for all sports etc.
I arrived in Mendocino County in 1971. I had just sold a land company.
From 1971 to 2010 is 40 years and now I have three sons who say “Me too!” And there are 30 or 40 others who followed in my footsteps.
Therefore, I have a very extensive business background in real estate. It's how I made money in Florida from 1960-1970. I owned and operated a retreat from 1988-1995 in Florida. So I am tested and tried.
I own the land. From 1971-1979 I advocated for both new and existing public access through that land and had huge success with the house that Britt Macmillan built with Britt Vaughn who now owns it. His wife now wants to sell it. The hard work is done! There is public access. I want to do it again in 2010.
PS. I met Dr. Mishra at B’Nai Boo in 1971. He came there to do an eastern fire ceremony to acknowledge the offer and acceptance of the land for public use! It was approved by the state in 1996. I was at the wine and cheese ribbon-cutting official acknowledgment. The address is 10000 North Highway 1, Mendocino 95460. According to the March 2010 Century 21 Seascape Realty brochure the building is more than 4500 square feet on about eight acres and has four bathrooms. The list price is $4 million. Description: “Arched picture windows bring the Pacific Ocean, Mendocino Bay and Big River vistas to the interior of this very unique home with indoor spa and garden room with pool, hot tub and sauna. Raised formal dining room and billiard rooms feature grand beveled glass windows. Massive river rock fireplaces in living and family rooms. Gourmet kitchen, outdoor barbecue, spacious decks and lush rolling pine studded lawns.”
PPS. Can anyone advise me about how to go public? I can be reached at Box 1367, Mendocino CA 95460.
THE GOVERNOR SHOW
Meg Whitman is a real goof. Now this ex-CEO of a glorified auction house says she would create legislative teams to focus on her top priorities. Hey Meg, the legislature already has legislative teams — they are called legislative committees.
Plus there is no way under the good heaven the legislature is going to change their mode of operation at her bidding. The lady is either hopelessly naive or totally delusional. She says her top priorities are creating jobs, cutting government spending and improving the state's K-12 education system. She just announced she wants to build more prisons. Lets see how that plays out. Create more correctional officer jobs, increase the cost of running the prison system at the same time when her plans for education obviously will need more funds to accomplish.
Now I like lots of humor in my politics and the upcoming gubernatorial race between Whitman and Jerry Brown, who has his goofy moments, should provide lots of entertainment.
James G. Updegraff
THE POT TAX INITIATIVE
Last week a proposal that would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol in the state of California secured a place on the November 2010 ballot. The Marijuana Policy Project which has endorsed the initiative has spokespeople available in California and Washington DC to discuss this historic breakthrough in the campaign to end marijuana prohibition.
In California: Aaron Smith, 707-291-0076.
In Washington: Steve Fox, 202-905-2042.
Organizers of the “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010” submitted nearly 700,000 signatures to state authorities in January, far exceeding the 433,971 required to place the question on this year’s election ballot. The ballot initiative would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and allow cities and counties to impose a tax on the sale of marijuana. With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. We believe that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.
Bruce McEwen’s court reporting column in your March 24th issue has prompted me to write this letter which has been percolating in my mind ever since I received this information about a month and a half ago.
I was in the Ukiah courthouse talking to an offer of the court, a defense attorney who has been practicing in Mendocino County for over 25 years.
I told him that I had heard that Deputy Gupta was one of several “outlaw” deputies who were illegally profiting from their assignment to the Task Force that performs marijuana investigations and busts and could he verify this for me or not?
He said that it was indeed true but that the worst of the outlaw bunch of deputy sheriffs was Derek Hendry operating out of the Willits substation. He said that Derek is a special agent and that Derek’s father, Deputy Raymond Hendry, was in the business of locating large grows and then approaching the growers telling them that for $10,000 he could prevent them from being busted.
My source, who insisted I not use his name, said that around Willits and Covelo this scam is well known. After he insisted I not reveal his name I asked him if I should sign my name to this letter and he said, “NO! These people are dangerous!”
Later, I was discussing this information with a bailiff who has been a field deputy in Willits and who began his career with the Sheriff’s Department as a correctional officer at the jail about 25 years ago. When I first mentioned the attorney’s confirmation of Gupta’s behavior, he was dubious but when I told him of the Hendrys’ shakedown scam he said, “I can believe that; Derek’s father is kinda off the hook.”
I have complete faith in the veracity of my attorney source’s knowledge of these things, else I would not write this letter.
Ed note: I'll take this opportunity to issue our standard offer: Prove it. Drug people frequently make these claims, but in all the years we've never been able to substantiate a single one. The only time cops have been caught around here taking money from perps or alleged perps occurred in Ukiah a few years ago when the Ukiah PD nailed two of their finest rolling immigrant Mexicans.
NO MORE MOORE
Dear Democracy Now!,
After giving myself the day to cool off, I just revisited Michael Moore's segment on today's show and find that I'm still as outraged over it as I was when I heard it this morning.
I have a hard time understanding why the Left in general, and Democracy Now! in particular, regards Michael Moore to be a credible or meaningful voice of progressive causes. This morning, he made some pretty strong yet obvious observations about the general state of things but, as usual, he didn't really add any new information or analysis. Not really anything any number of us might have been able to come up with.
If that alone is enough for people get a charge out of listening to him, I would normally have no particular beef with it. But when he launches in to an ugly, baseless, ad hominem rant, then I have a problem.
On the show today, Democracy Now! played a video clip of Moore and Bill Maher ambushing and humiliating Ralph Nader by kneeling in front of him and begging him to withdraw his candidacy for President on Maher's TV show in 2004.
One might have hoped that Moore would use this as an opportunity to publicly apologize for that shameful display. But instead he used it as a forum to further elevate himself as the True Grassroots Champion of the people. He is after all the Star of his own commercially successful “documentaries” and often appears on TV stating his opinions, while Ralph Nader, despite a lifetime of activism, and spearheading innumerable non-profit organizations, and exposing the corruption of our political process through his presidential campaigns is —according to Moore— merely a “poser” who “likes to hear himself talk.”
“And, you know, unlike Ralph, I guess maybe I’m not in this for just to say it so I can hear myself talk or to be some—or to take some poser position. And I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh, but I don’t see him ever working with the grassroots or with the people or being in touch with the people in any way, shape or form.
“Ralph’s approach is, put his name on the ballot and run for office. Where are we as a result of that? I don’t—you know, I don’t see us anywhere other than in the same pitiful state we’ve been in for some time.”
By that flawed logic, considering the “pitiful state we’re in,” anything ANY of us has EVER done has been a complete waste of time — including Michael Moore.
Again, Moore’s rant against Nader was ugly, baseless ad hominem. And as is so often the case with Moore, it was self-serving, intellectually lazy, and reckless. There should be no place for that on Democracy Now! or anywhere in serious progressive media.
How are you doing, AVA? I have been reading your paper for the last 15 years, like your punch-n-punch-back fortitude. I would like to see more on water rights and wrongs, sounds like you have some good reporters. What can these cracker-jacks discover about our water now?
I'm writing this letter to point out the fine character of our Sheriff, Tom Allman.
I recently came up for parole and would have been considered for release if not for outright lies and fabrications and of evidence.
You see, our liar (I mean Sheriff) wrote the parole board saying the Underhills (my victim's family) have a strong opposition to my release. That is a lie. I enclose two letters from the Underhills supporting my release. One was written a year before the other. The second was written to the parole board because our liar (Sheriff) says they oppose my release.
Allman also says I tried to escape many times. Another lie. After my trial was over Judge Luther said I could hug my wife and children goodbye. Security in the courtroom did not hear the judge give me permission. So when I reached for my family I was beaten along with several of my family members.
To cover their mistake I was charged with escape. After a short fast trial the jury found that no crime had taken place and I was declared not guilty. Here are the court minutes for page number C-12694.
Our fine sheriff says I tried to escape during and after my trial. He says I tried to escape while being transported as well. More lies. There are no reports or documents to support these lies, just BS coming from Allman to keep me in prison. I've written to the Sheriff, the District Attorney and the Attorney General but I get no response at all.
I also would like to mention that at my prior hearing three years ago Tom Allman wrote me a personal letter congratulating me on all my accomplishments in prison and said he would like to openly support my release but he couldn't because of his job.
The parole board has that letter so I can’t include it here but I am trying to get copies.
Allman is going to run for sheriff again and his lies to the parole board show just how his character truly is — lie, cheat and lie some more for his job!
I urge Mendocino residents to find a sheriff who stands for truth and justice no matter what. Boot Allman out of office.
You can print any or all of this info and this letter and perhaps inquire of the false escapes they claim. I would be very grateful.
Remember, sometimes even good people make mistakes, but to knowingly cause harm is a crime. I've paid my dues to society. It's time to let the healing begin.
Carl Anderson a 13 503
Solano State prison
P.O. Box 4013 K-3 L.
Vacaville, CA 95696
Enclosure #1: Superior Court of California, County of Mendocino. The people of the State of California, Plaintiff, v. Carl Wayne Anderson, defendant. Page number C12694. Verdict: We, the jury, find the said defendant not guilty of a felony violation of section 453 2(b)2 of the California Penal Code, attempted escape from custody with force or violence, as charged in count one of the information. Dated: June 26, 1996. (Foreperson’s signature deleted per CCP 237(a)2.)
Enclosure #2. To Sheryl Miller, classification and parole representative, CSP Solano, PO Box 4000, Vacaville, CA 95696-4000. RE: Anderson, Carl. CDC: K-13503. To whom it may concern: In 1995 Mr. Anderson was convicted of attempted murder-first degree and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The last time the victim, Mr. Charles Underhill, was in touch with this office, he expressed his strong opposition to an early release for Mr. Anderson. Due to Mr. Anderson's history of criminal and violent behavior, I feel very strongly that his release would pose a tremendous threat to the community. It should also be noted that Mr. Anderson made numerous escape attempts during and after a jury conviction. One attempt was from the courtroom itself after hearing the verdict, and another while being transported. It is my recommendation that Carl Anderson be denied parole. Sincerely yours, Tom Allman, Sheriff-Coroner. October 19, 2009.
Enclosure #3. To the State Board of Parole and to the people: I am writing this letter on behalf of my husband Charles W. Underhill and myself Cheryl A. Underhill. Recently we were notified that Carl W. Anderson was coming up for his parole hearing on December 18, 2008 at 1:3o for consideration for his release from prison. We realize this is the time for us to give our recommendation. We feel that Carl Anderson has served a great deal of years. Neither one of us have any animosity or fear of Carl Anderson or any of his family members. We have both very seriously considered our feelings and we strongly feel it is time he be reunited with his wife and family. At this time we feel he deserves a chance to be an upstanding citizen and to be put back in the community where he can have a chance to live a good and normal law-abiding life. You have our current address and phone number if you have any future questions. Cheryl W. Underhill, Charlie W. Underhill. (Undated)
Enclosure #4: To state Board of Parole and to the people: I am writing this letter on behalf of my husband Charles W. Underhill and myself Cheryl A. Underhill. It was this time last year we submitted a letter to you on behalf of Carl Anderson. At this time we still hold the same feelings as last year and that is our recommendation for release and to review our letter sent last year which I send a copy with this letter. We can be contacted at the same phone number and address you have on confidential file for us. Sincerely, Cheryl A. Underhill, Charles W. Underhill. November 5, 2009.
A HANDFUL OF DAFFODILS
Editor a la John Wester,
Although you’re not Daniel Wester, misspelling Nancy Tulley’s name, while calling Captain Fathom in the 3/24/10 AVA is a misdemeanor compared to your putting her name without her permission at the top of your list for a means for Alan Graham to take a “trip down memory lane.” An act almost as felonious as telling me to hand Frankenstein a handful of daffodils as I say, “to the artist.”
JUSTICES LIU & SUNSTEIN
I'd like to give the People a heads up on our upcoming Supreme Court nominations. Goodwin Liu and Cass Sunstein are our most likely candidates. Liu believes the Constitution must adapt to changes in the world and that we must adopt UN Rule. I don't know about you, but I've had just about enough out of the UN.
Sunstein simply believes we must do away with free speech and the Internet and just arrest dissenters and put them in prison camps. Oh, and animals should be able to sue humans. Somebody should tell the animals where the money is. It ain't with the American People no mo; although, I know a number of lawyers who would like this idea, just proving the point that it's a bad one.
This is the next batch of slop to be crammed down your shocked gullet. And that's only the half of it. Just thought you should know.
If you read only one book this year, I highly recommend “Empire of Illusion; The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” by Chris Hedges, Nation Books (2009).
Hedges has reinforced some of my long-held beliefs about the US government, chief of which is that we have been living under a corporate dictatorship, also known as a “totalitarian capitalist” or “fascist” dictatorship — by the strictest definition of any of these words — since at least Nov. 22, 1963. As I’ve written many times before, a few faces at the top change every four or eight years to maintain the illusion of democracy. This illusion is nurtured and disseminated by the corporate media with the help of psychologists in the advertising and public relations industry.
Another belief of mine is that Bill Clinton was the best Republican president ever. In his book, Hedges writes about how Clinton helped ruin the economy of the entire world with NAFTA and GATT. Hedges doesn’t say as much, but I think these two programs, like the more recent Wall Street fiasco and the S&L debacle decades ago, have NOT been “failures.” Instead they have been colossal rip-offs, designed and implemented as such.
Hedges writes on pages 157 and 158 about how the US of A has particularly devastated the economy of Mexico. So is it any wonder Mexicans are risking life, limb, and/or time behind bars crossing the border to scratch out a living wage working for affluent Americans or even corporations who ALWAYS welcome cheap labor? And just as the US criminal justice system usually punishes hookers far more than their “Johns,” Mexican illegals are being scapegoated now that the US economy has soured and some native-born are willing to work for slave wages.
Yet another long-held belief of mine is reinforced by Hedges. American schools don’t educate for life, they program students solely for the market place. Hedges, himself a graduate of Ivy League schools, tears into these elite institutions as only an insider can. For instance, presidents of Ivy League universities earn as much income as Wall Street traitors, I mean traders. And like our representatives in Congress, they spend most of their time fund-raising, writes Hedges. Are we surprised?
Institutionalized education in America with the help of the corporate media (especially TV) is deliberately dumbing-down the populace. True or false?
Then there is the so-called “defense” industry and the Department of “Defense” and its bastard off-spring, the vast (like in “huge,” “mammoth,” “gigantic,” etc.) intelligence community that requires “enemies” in order to grow each quarter like any capitalistic enterprise. Who are these people serving? Not you and me! Members of this global terrorist network are careerists who first serve themselves. Secondly they protect the wealthy elite and even help them get richer.
“Markets soar on positive war news,” was “The New York Times” headline as US-led forces invaded Iraq in 2003. “Dow’s best gain in 20 years,” reported Jonathan Fuerbringer. Seven years later, we can say with certainty, “Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam.” And remember the poster from 1969 of an illustration of the Pieta in Rome with the caption, “War is good business. Invest your son.” (One of these posters now sells for $100 at www.leadpipeposters.com.)
The NSA and the CIA haven’t found Osama bin Laden because they don’t want to. They need him out there as a “bogey man” to help frighten US taxpayers out of their hard-earned money. This is me writing here, but I think Hedges would agree.
“Speculators in the seventeenth century were hanged,” writes Hedges. “Today they receive billons of taxpayer dollars and huge bonuses,” he adds.
So instead of a “final solution” for America’s illegal aliens and those on welfare who are easy prey, we should take on the Big League — America’s wealthy elite who have been FOREVER waging class war on the rest of us. And isn’t it soooo clever how these big time gangsters con the undereducated working class, like the teabaggers, to defend them or at least muddy the waters come voting time? Sarah Palin in the White House will make George Bush look good just as he made Nixon look good.
As for “spectacle” in the subtitle, Hedges writes about Hollywood and the pornography industry and professional sports and television, that, like the “circuses” of ancient Rome, keep us serfs sedated and apolitical.
Legislation, heavily armed mercenaries, and empty FEMA-run prison camps await a popular uprising. Revolution is not an option for me. It just replaces one uptight establishment with another. Look at history!
Hedges solution to coping with our outlaw government is, well, love. Something like, love and altruism will triumph. I won't argue with that.
But what if we put our energy into cooperatives like Mondragon in Spain, land trusts, our own currency, flea markets, home-schooling, etc. to cut the big corporations and the government out of the loop while we brainstorm non-violent ways and means to take our government back, that is if we ever had control of it.
I vote for a renaissance. And reading books like those of Hedges can only help.
HEALTHCARE FOR HENS
To the Editor:
I am very annoyed at the Health Care fraud that our President is now touting as if it amounts to Reform. When you turn the hen house over to the fox, and let him change all the locks to serve his needs and set the rental rates, how can you expect he will protect the hens from his continuing voraciousness? Yes, the fox did agree he would not eat any hen before its time, and allowed that those chickens that had run loose in the past without a hen house they could call their own, were now safely ensconced in the fox's new hen houses. He even agreed with the President that the formerly wild on-their-own hens could now pay the fox suitable rents for the privilege of a “safe” hen house. If the wild chickens can not afford the rent because they have no job, the President agreed to chip in and subsidize.
Oh yes, I almost forgot: the price of chicken feed will rise any time the fox decides since he now has a total monopoly on feed supply. The President will not stand in the way of his making extra bucks in this way. The fox conceded that he would allow skinny and sickly hens to remain in the hen house (pre-existing skinnyness) rather than being thrown to the circling wolves outdoors but he didn't guarantee that he would feed these skinny ones very much.
We have now set up a totally socialized system to protect the capitalist fox from any risks, we even expanded his market reach, and we call it free economic capitalism. We cannot even consider giving all the chickens free rent and feed, paid for out of the tax we extract from the periodic sale of chicken flesh (sometimes called low wage employment), of course.
My God that would be socialism!
So this is what I learned from the last weekend of the health care reform debate.
First, lay a coffin at a White House fence and you're subject to arrest.
Spit and yell abuse at members of the Black Caucus as they enter the Capitol and you'll be left in peace. The same goes for screaming epithets at Barney Frank.
If you're going to mass half a million strong for immigration reform, don't expect coverage on CSPAN when they're covering live events in and around Capitol Hill — not if there are hundreds of epithet throwers somewhere close to cover.
And I learned that after all, it has to be said, some Democrats do have spine. Unfortunately the rest could take some lessons in how to negotiate from the teeny weeny criminalize-abortion caucus and Rep. Bart Stupak.
Finally I learned that Nancy Pelosi is one hell of a house leader. She really can corral a majority when she wants. In fact, she and President Barack Obama can be really persuasive, when they want to be.
So let's not hear any more bunk about the impossibility of the aforementioned immigration reform, or repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell, or actually coming up with some real financial regulation.
They can do it when they want to.
The one thing that remains a mystery is how to make them want to. If you don't have a mountain of cash, that is.
Laura Flanders, host, GRITtv,
Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV
Online GRITtv.org and TheNation.com.
DOES BAGHDAD HAVE POWER?
Back in December Professor Francis Boyle, the famous Chicago-based lawyer who specializes in international law and war crimes, wrote an article that I would like more information about. I would hope that someone receiving this will have access to the information I seek.
We know that in the attacks on Baghdad of 2003 and in the many subsequent civic disturbances much essential urban infrastructure was damaged or destroyed: power, water, sewage. For a while, several years ago, there were lurid, but true (?) stories, about power coming on for 3-6 hours in 24, about shortages of water, and about pools of standing sewage in Sadr City, raw sewage being dumped into the Tigris, etc.
Today these stories have vanished. Can it be that this essential infrastructure has been restored? I have heard nothing.
We hear, in some detail, the stories about the recent election, often we hear about the “improvement in security,” but as far as I know nothing about the infrastructure in Baghdad.
I have spent considerable time in places which have endured substantial water outages. It is remarkable how difficult such outages make life.
I request anyone with information about this matter to let me know what you know by writing a letter to this newspaper.
Again apologies, thanks in advance, and best wishes.
Silver Springs, Maryland
THOSE STONE-DUMB POSTINGS
Most writers of letters to newspapers try to take care to support their positions with facts while fair-mindedly acknowledging the opposing side.
Contrast those letters with readers' comments that follow Ukiah Daily Journal and Times-Standard web articles. I don't know why I read those comments. They are typically mean-spirited personal attacks, conveyed with dreadful spelling and grammar.
Sometimes I'll read a Times-Standard or Daily Journal article and think, “Okay, no one should have anything cruel to say about this,” but I'm always disappointed. For example, this comment about the rescue of the Sheriff's deputy whose car went into the Trinity: “Looks like the chp needs to give the sheriff deputy a ticket for unsafe speed. driving to fast for the conditions.” (To be fair, most comments about that article were kudos to the rescuers.) More typical is this comment regarding the arrest of a suspected meth dealer: “WOW ... his mom just got a dui and know the kids are in your foot steps that really sick, the parents have no teeth, don't ask them to smile, and the little girl need a differnt place to live or she's just going to be a loser like the parents ... [sic].” It goes on; I couldn't finish it.
This discrepancy could be a result of the anonymity of cyber-commenting versus the need to sign a letter to the editor. Still, it rekindles my sense of “Two Counties,” an impression that developed when I moved here in 1990. That was the height of the timber wars and I remember writing to a friend, “I have never lived in such a polarized place.”
It didn't end with the timber wars. This region has continued to be angrily divided over one issue or another ever since. This latest division (at least as it exists in my head, of people who can be respectful in their disagreements versus those who spew vitriol at any opportunity) saddens me. I have no thoughts as to solutions, or whether change is even desirable. I'm just putting this observation out there. And, I know, setting myself up for two kinds of responses.
MAN’S BEST FRIEND
Why Some Men Have Dogs, Not Wives
1. The later you are, the more excited your dogs are to see you.
2. Dogs don't notice if you call them by another dog's name.
3. Dogs like it if you leave a lot of things on the floor.
4. A dog's parents never visit.
5. Dogs agree that you have to raise your voice to get your point across.
6. You never have to wait for a dog; they're ready to go 24 hours a day.
7. Dogs find you amusing when you're drunk.
8. Dogs like to go hunting and fishing.
9. A dog will not wake you up at night to ask, “If I died, would you get another dog?”
10. If a dog has babies, you can put an ad in the paper and give them away.
11. A dog will let you put a studded collar on it without calling you a pervert.
12. If a dog smells another dog on you, they don't get mad. They just think it's interesting.
13. Dogs like to ride in the back of a pickup truck.
14. If a dog leaves, it won't take half of your stuff.
PG&E v. US
Here is an issue that has bypassed all the newspapers recently. I came across this a couple of weeks ago and have been keeping up on it ever since, sort of waiting for some mention in our newspapers.
So I’ll mention it myself considering it could be one of the more important stories of this year in California.
If you have been wondering how the recent Supreme Court decision will affect American politics, you will have your chance to see shortly.
There has been much speculation how bad for democracy the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent junking of federal campaign spending limits on corporations will be.
With this huge ballot campaign launched by California’s biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, we can say this: It's going to be worse than you can imagine.
PG&E has written and managed to get on the ballot Proposition 16, Two-Thirds Requirement for Local Public Electricity Providers Act, a Constitutional Amendment that thwarts ANY attempts at public power. Officially the bill is sponsored by “Californians to Protect Our Right to Vote,” which labels itself as “A Coalition Of Taxpayers, Environmentalists, Renewable Energy, Business And Labor.”
(Yeah right. These people are good at title lies.)… It is a coalition of one.
Proposition 16 is a completely self funded initiative that restricts the ability of electricity consumers to buy from anyone other than for-profit monopolies (PG&E). PG&E wants to lock its monopoly advantage into the State Constitution.
Proposition 16 is in many ways the most important ballot initiative. It is important because of what it represents: more corporate takeover of the political process. In a blatant thumbing of its nose at the political process, this corporate giant is attempting to use the proposition system to cement its own power and maintain its monopoly.
“I am mindful of the contempt for the legislative process, reliance on deceptive wording, Yet Proposition 16 actually wants to restrict the ability of electricity consumers to buy from anyone other than for-profit monopolies.”
That means that within the existing 48 munis, every new connection — every new home buyer, every new business — would be subject to an election requiring the approval of two-thirds of the voters. ” -John Geesman, Former Callif. Energy Commissioner.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera recently petitioned the California Public Utilities Commission for tougher regulations to prohibit electric utilities from engaging in marketing campaigns and other abuses of their monopoly position to undermine Community Choice Aggregation, a program intended to enable local governments to develop cleaner, renewable energy sources and ultimately stabilize consumers’ electricity costs.
“We cannot let Californians be denied the benefits of cleaner, cost-effective energy alternatives — consumer choice is simply too important to ratepayers and the environment,”
Then Marin County got into the action. Marin County’s fledgling public power agency, the Marin Energy Authority, has set its rates and has picked a company to buy electricity wholesale for many of the county's residents. Results? Same rates, 50% green power.
Of course this drives PG&E up a telephone pole in fury, because these large corporate monopolies don’t like competition. A free market is a bit much for them, somewhat similar to health insurance companies. They just don’t like the competition.
At first, PG&E threatened not to deliver electricity to the authority over PG&E's power lines — an act which is illegal. Then they decided to go to the ballot with Prop 16 a state constitutional amendment, spending 6.5 million dollars to do it. Now the price is up to 35 million to pass this, according to PG&E.
It seems to me that as Ukiah and Mendocino County are negotiating tax sharing they could also negotiate about making all of our utilities local, where Mendocino County can control its own energy, as does Ukiah. This would keep all the money circulating in the County and certainly help rebuild our economy. More jobs. Let us keep the profit for our local economy instead of the PG&E Corporation and use it for alternative energy in our county.
Let me repeat: Proposition 16 is in many ways the most important ballot initiative. It is important because it represents more corporate takeover of the political process. We cannot let this happen. Spread the word. Vote NO on Prop 16.
Then, let’s start our own Power Authority in Mendocino County.
I have sent this information to LAFCO for discussion.
NO CAVING FOR HEALTHCARE
What do these people and organizations have in common?
Michael Moore, MoveOn, John Conyers, The Nation, Arianna Huffington, Daily Kos, Dennis Kucinich, AFL-CIO…
What do they have in common? They all put the demands of the Democratic Party ahead of the needs of the American people. They all knew that the health care bill that just passed into law is a bad bill. An insurance industry bailout.
But they all said: Can't let the Democrats lose this one; it doesn't matter what's in the health care bill, just as long as we pass something.
But of course, it does matter. That's why Single Payer Action stood without compromise against the Democrats' bailout bill and for single payer. That's why we will keep exposing, agitating, and organizing for single payer, district by district, neighborhood by neighborhood until we prevail.
And we will prevail.
Why? Because we will never put the interests of any political party ahead of the interests of the American people. We will push aside the corrupt Democrats and build an uncompromising movement for single payer from the grassroots up.
To help us build, please donate now, whatever you can. And if you donate $100 or more, we'll send you a copy of In the Shadow of Power, a poignant and haunting collection of photographs of the other Washington, D.C. with an introduction by Ralph Nader. And we'll send you a copy of In Pursuit of Justice, the classic collection of columns by Ralph Nader. Both signed by Ralph Nader. So, donate now, whatever you can and stand with us against the insurance industry, against the Democrats and Republicans. For single payer: health care for all, everybody in, nobody out.
Let's get 'er done.
Onward to single payer.
PS. Remember, this special two-book offer ends 11:59pmm Wednesday, March 31, 2010. So donate now. Whatever you can afford.
ME & JARED
Last week’s “Off the Record” included an unattributed comment about one of my campaign events together with a character assassination of the host and a warning that, as supervisor, I shall represent only the interests of those with whom I associate. I can only conclude that someone is taking my candidacy seriously.
This event did occur, as have several others. I sincerely hope that when I am your elected 5th District Supervisor, I shall continue to associate with as wide an array of constituents as I’ve been meeting on the campaign trail. Anyone who sees this as a negative should reexamine the meaning of the words “non-partisan” and “representative government.”
The referenced gathering brought together 4 former Supervisors, the retired CAO, the county’s last remaining public health nurse, a local newspaper columnist, the wife of the owner of one of our oldest vineyards, a retired reading specialist who now works with children who are second language learners, and various members of the business community. The host is not only an attorney, he is also an avid birdwatcher and organic gardener. His wife is a member of AAUW and volunteers extensively in the community. The knowledge and wide diversity of opinion among the guests was evident in the lively conversation that further expanded my understanding of county government, politics, and a wide range of services and agencies.
In recent weeks, I’ve had tea with a Cannabis advocate, heard from a school board member about the proposed AV school bond and from a Valley realtor about ways to address the “Boonville Blight.” I've visited with artists, shopkeepers, sheep farmers, winemakers, health care workers, contractors, waitresses and teachers. I‘ve brunched at the Bluebird Café, pot lucked with MAPA as a member of Audubon and the Botanical Gardens, toured community health clinics in AV and Gualala and lunched in Ukiah with fellow candidates Norm DeVall and Tony Orth during a break in the recent budget workshop. I attend most Supervisors' meetings and observed last week's airport commission meeting. I've gone to “Girls' Nights Out,” the AV variety show and two Senior Center corned beef dinners. I attend GMAC and Progressive Democrat meetings in Gualala and just spent the day at the annual rummage sale in Elk.
As Supervisor, I shall continue to act in a fair and balanced manner after listening to all perspectives. If this troubles your readers, even for a moment, we are lost.
Wendy Roberts, Candidate
Ed reply: I tried to call you for confirmation the Monday before your soiree at Jared and Bonnie Carter's. Your husband said you were in Ukiah at, I deduced all by myself, the Carters, whom you apparently Dare Not Name for fear their names may be toxic to the libs your campaign hopes to attract. You're quite right to emphasize the big tent approach to supervisor seats. The job is supposed to be non-partisan, which the Carters and their terrifying friends might concede in theory but never have in practice. Carter's political history is not 'character assassination' but public record. I get a kick out of the old boy myself. He reminds me of Nixon who, looked at one way, was a great comic figure. The very thought of Hamburg back in office seems to have mobilized Carter, Butcher and the rest of the Ukiah Terribles to get behind you, and you're running strong, old girl, so relax. I'd say it's between you and Hamburg, with Mastin a very dark horse and de Vall coming in too late to overcome Hamburg's early start.
ED COLOMBI JR.’S SENTENCING
I want to thank all the witnesses who stood up for justice in the felony grand theft crime of lumber and logs stolen by Ed Colombi Jr.and Robert Russell in the Spring of 2006.
On January 7, 2010 Edward Colombi Jr. plead guilty to felony grand theft. His sentencing and restitution hearing will be held on April 6 at 9am at the Ten Mile Justice Court in Fort Bragg.
Please feel free to attend at my invitation to show support for your public officials who stand up to organized crime in your community.
If you have had experiences with Ed Colombi Jr., be they positive or negative, you can send a letter about those experiences to his adult probation officer, Officer Vargas, via fax at 463-5461 or by letter to 280 E. Standley St., Ukiah CA 95482. They will be included in her report to the judge. Copies to Deputy DA Tim Stoen at 700 S. Franklin St., Fort Bragg, CA 95437 (Fax 961-2429.)
Q BUT NO A
Dear Candidates for Supervisor:
I've been talking with most of you privately, and off-the-record. I've appreciated each of your commitment to run for our county's highest office. Indeed, I appreciate each of you, personally and professionally.
Now, I'll speak on-the-record.
My advice to each of you? This campaign season is not “business as usual.” Forget dirty-trick politics, and name calling, and the blame game. Forget personalities. Forget egos. Forget campaign signs. Forget bumper stickers. Forget fundraising parties. Forget slapping backs, and shaking hands, and kissing babies.
Start hammering away at the issues.
Wake up! Mendocino County is at the threshold of bankruptcy. We have the greatest debt load per capita — and the lowest credit rating — of all the counties in California.
And we have no revenue enhancement to offset our debt, and that which our debt drives, the deficit.
Nor do we have a viable economic development plan. “Marijuana Inc.” is great televison on CNBC, but it isn't an economc development plan. As marijuana becomes increasingly decriminalized, its price is falling, and with it, much of our county's underground economy.
Such is the nature of commodity markets.
* * *
Make county debt and the county deficit your #1 campaign issue.
One problem? Too many overpaid department heads, managers, and supervisors. Not enough workers.
How many county employees do we have making over $100,000 a year?
Between $90,000 and $100,000 a year.
Between $80,000 and $90,000 a year?
Between $70,000 and $80,000 a year?
Meanwhile, what does the average private sector employee make in Mendocino County?
And what is the supervisor-to-staff ratio — per department — in county government? Do we have too many bosses and not enough workers?
And why is MCERS (a defined benefits plan) three times more generous — on average — than the private sector plans (defined contributions plans) for those workers who aren't luckly enough to work for the county?
MCERS is The Budget Buster.
Why didn't our past treasurer and auditor — Tim Knutsen and Dennis Huey — tell previous Boards of Supervisors that MCERS was unsustainable? Why was the fiction of “excess earnings” perpetrated for so long? Why was there an inability for so long — 20 years — to reconcile actuarial science and pension accounting with true economic values? Why weren't past Boards of Supervisors told of the true “required rate of return” that MCERS needed in order to achieve solvency?
Why were there so many lies?
Why were unfunded pension liabilities rolled over? Time and time again? Year after year? Why were actuaries and auditors recently instructed by MCERS to engage in “voodoo accounting,” i.e. new amortization schedules, new corridors for accounting for gains and losses, alternative measures of pension liability, an inabillity --or unwillingness — to recognize net funded status, a tendency to hide the true components of contributions vs. pension expense, a tendency to bury important disclosures in obscure footnotes to financial statements, etc.
Why were there so many secrets?
Why did Mendocino County have just one investment advisor — Peter Chan — advising MCERS for 27 years? No RFP. Just a sweetheart contract. A sweetheart contract for a guy working from an obsolete 40-year old asset allocation model. A sweetheart contract for a guy who put MCERS into a bond fund — Dodge & Cox — that had exposure to Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers, and Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac...all the “dogs” of the bond universe. A sweetheart contract for a guy who never hedged any aspect of our portfolio for bear markets, i.e. no covered call writing, no long-short funds, no participation in the euro's huge rally during the early part of this decade. A sweetheart contract for a guy who did little more than hire the top performing mutual funds in past quarters and past years, by merely reading the Lipper Rankings or Morningstar? My five-year old granddaughter can do that.
Why was there so much incompetence?
Why were two Pension Obligation Bonds, totalling $110 million, issued in 1997 and 2002, without ever going to the taxpayers in a voter referendum? Why did former counsel counsel, Peter Klein, never invite public input, but instead seek only a judge's order in the dead of night to bypass the taxpayer?
Why was there so much unfairness?
Finally, now that MCERS has blown up, and it becomes increasing apparent that retriree healthcare will be a thing of the past, do retirees have grounds for a class action lawsuit? Was the “public process” truly honored in MCERS making its recent unilateral decision to screw retirees?
Also — and this is very important — know that for every $100 in payroll costs, the Mendocino County will pay $24.40 in pension obligations.
This is The Budget Breaker. The Deal Breaker.
And that's wrong. Very wrong. We are firing workers and cutting essential services to subsidize the fiasco known as MCERS.
* * *
If you don't know the all the answers to the questions above, or every aspect of all the issues above, file an Freedom of Information request at the County Clerk's Office. Or ask folks who do know the answers. John Dickerson. Ted Stevens. Wendy Pollitz. Get the answers, dear candidates. And start debating the real issues.
Mendocino County has never had a more important election.
My best to all of you for a spirited debate, for inclusion of the public's thoughts and feelings, and for meaningful reform once you are elected.